Deadly antibiotic resistance could be countered by gene drives

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Image: National Geographic

Where a gene drive that cuts and destroys plasmids may fail, a gene drive that cuts, pastes, and copies plasmids may succeed. The “where,” in this case, is an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that carries multiple copies of an antibiotic-resistance gene. …

To overcome this problem, scientists based at the University of California (UC), San Diego, developed a gene drive that incorporates a self-amplifying mechanism. Called Pro-AG, for “proactive” active genetics, it increases its efficiency through a positive feedback loop.

Pro-AG was introduced December 16 in Nature Communications, in an article titled, “A bacterial gene-drive system efficiently edits and inactivates a high copy number antibiotic resistance locus.”

The article’s authors, scientists in the laboratories of Victor Nizet, MD, and Ethan Bier, PhD, suggest that their Pro-AG system may reduce one of society’s most formidable threats to human health. Widespread prescriptions of antibiotics and use in animal food production have led to a rising prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the environment. Evidence indicates that these environmental sources of antibiotic resistance are transmitted to humans and contribute to the current health crisis associated with the dramatic rise in drug-resistant microbes. Health experts predict that threats from antibiotic resistance could drastically increase in the coming decades, leading to some 10 million drug-resistant disease deaths per year by 2050 if left unchecked.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Public supports CRISPR, gene drives to battle infectious disease, plant pests—despite activist opposition

Read full, original post: Antibiotic Resistance Hoops Countered by Gene Drive Feedback Loops

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